Cashiers seminar will show how to maintain a berry patch
By Christe Bredenkamp / Guest Columnist
CASHIERS -- The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service will offer a free seminar in Cashiers on how to establish and maintain your southern Jackson County strawberry, blackberry and raspberry patches. The seminar is set for 10:15 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library. Topics will include the basic cultural needs of these three berry types. You can learn more about site selection and preparation, proper soil conditions, fertility needs, spacing, trellising, weed control, choosing the right cultivar, pruning, training and harvesting.
We will also discuss the most common disease and insect problems and their possible control options.
For information or to register for these free classes, call the Jackson County extension center in Sylva at 828-586-4009 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we plow into the new year, southern Jackson County gardeners with home orchards email or call in asking good questions about what type of fertilizer to use, when to fertilize, and how much to apply for a successful crop of apples, pears, grapes and blueberries. Choosing the right food, such as a granular 10-10-10, cow manure, lime or sulfur will aide in good fruit production throughout the season. However, the first step is to soil sample! Lab findings will convey precise results and offer suggestions for tweaking soil pH levels along with any other nutrients that may be lacking. Soil test boxes and forms can be picked up at the extension center.
First year fertility tips include:
• Grapes -- Apply a quarter pound of 10-10-10 in an 18-inch circle around each vine late February-early April. Repeat every six weeks until early July.
• Blueberries -- Apply one tablespoon of 10-10-10 in a circle 1-foot away from plant after the first leaves reach full size. Repeat the application at six-week intervals until early July.
• Strawberries -- Apply about four pounds 10-10-10 per 100 feet of row two to three weeks before planting. A top dressing of ammonium nitrate at 1 1/2 pounds per 100 feet of row should be made again in late August. When topdressing strawberry plants, apply the fertilizer evenly and be sure to brush all fertilizer off the leaves to protect from fertilizer burn.
• Blackberries and raspberries -- Grow best on deep well drained soils with a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Before planting, mix about three pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of soil and another five pounds per 100 linear feet after the start of new growth. In established plantings, apply in March well before the plant starts to produce flowers and fruit.
Fruit trees including apples, pears and peaches are fertilized in late winter by broadcasting under and beyond the drip line. On young trees, keep the fertilizer at least six inches away from the trunk. A good rule of thumb for applying fertilizer is to apply three-quarters to one pound of 10-10-10 per each year of the tree’s age. Observing the new growth of fruit trees each growing season will help you determine if you are applying enough or too much fertilizer. Increase rates if tree branches are less than 10 inches while decrease the amount of fertilizer if trees exhibit more than 18 inches of growth.
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